Did you know that:
* You can see the party affiliation of anyone registered to vote?
* You can see when the last time a person actually voted?
* You can check to see how much water they use?
* You can see the email of public employees sent and received relating to public business?
According to the latest Elon University Poll, most North Carolinians think that’s not right and that those records should all be confidential.
*Party affiliation: 58% think it should not be public.
* Voting records: 63% think they should not be public.
* Public utilities: 62% think they should not be public.
* Public employee email: 58% think it should not be public.
Closing these records to the public would hinder the news media, which routinely report on whether candidates for public office have voted recently or regularly. (There are candidates in nearly every election who haven’t.)
In addition, the emails of public employees are often used by reporters to explain why the government employees and politicians made the decisions or took the actions they did.
“The public’s attitude on government employees’ emails is surprising and shows that those of us who work on government transparency need to do a better job of explaining its importance,” said Jonathan Jones, director of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition. “Emails are often crucial to understanding why or how government came to a decision. “
On the other hand, poll respondents think that campaign contributions, government meetings, criminal records, public employee salaries and expense reports, and property tax records should be open. (They are currently public.)
– John Robinson